Monday, June 13, 2011

Recipe: Summerberry Crumble Pie

Most of the time, pie is the most delicious thing I can think of. (I always forget that when you make your crust from scratch, it takes something like four hours to get it in and out of the oven, and then it has to cool for ages, so pie is unfortunately a delayed sort of gratification.) In the winter, I like Mark Bittman's Buttermilk Blueberry Custard Pie (from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian), and in the summer I like this mixed-berry crumble (inspired by Ken Haedrich's advice in Pie).

Mmmmmm. As an aside, I always thought cooling pies in the window was just a mid-century trope--you know, the aproned housewife puts a steaming hot cherry pie on the windowsill, some scamp comes along and scoops out a piece and gets a burnt tongue for his trouble--but it does sort of help if you've got a cross-breeze going. And the faster a pie cools, the faster you can eat it!

One note for this pie: line the bottom of your oven with aluminum foil before you start the recipe. The juices will bubble up and drip everywhere, and you don't want to have to scrape that off your oven floor.

Summerberry Crumble Pie

You'll need:

One single batch of pie crust, or a store-bought crust (I'm still tweaking my recipe--maybe I'll post it here when I finally get it right--but I like the homely deliciousness of all-butter).

For the filling:
6 cups summer fruit (I used four cups fresh strawberries, two cups frozen blueberries, but any proportion of berries or stone fruits should be delicious)
1/2 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon (or less if your fruit is already on the tart side)
3 tablespoons cornstarch

For the topping:
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds (pecans or walnuts would probably be good too)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 tablespoon milk

If you're using a homemade pie crust: mix it, chill it, roll it out, drop it in the pan (give it as high an edge as you can manage, to keep the fruit from dripping unduly), and chuck it in the freezer while you chop and mix the fruit. If you're using store-bought, don't even worry about it.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the six cups fruit, half cup sugar, and lemon juice and zest in a large bowl. Let it sit for about ten minutes. Then stir up the cornstarch and two tablespoons of sugar in a small bowl and add them to the fruit all at once. Take your pie crust out of the freezer and pour the filling in, smoothing the top with a spoon. Put the pie on a middle-to-low shelf of the oven (you want the bottom browner than the top) and bake for 30 minutes.

While that's happening, mix your topping! Drop the flour, sugar, salt, and chopped nuts in a bowl and stir it up. Then chop the butter into small pieces and mix in, rubbing between your fingers like you're making biscuits (or, incidentally, a pie crust). When you've got the butter fully mixed in and reduced to relatively uniform little pieces smaller than peas, add the milk and stir until it's all moistened. Stick this in the fridge.

When the 30 minutes are up, take the pie out of the oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Sprinkle the crumble topping on the pie as evenly as you can and pat it down gently. Put the pie back in the oven--it helps to do a 180 lateral turn so both sides get browned evenly--and bake for another 40 minutes or so, until the juices are bubbling over and the topping looks golden brown.

Now eat it! Or rather, let it cool for a couple of hours and then eat it. I really hate that about pie.


P.S. I'm drafting a trouser pattern with Pamela Stringer's Pattern Drafting for Dressmaking--but the relevant chapter is not called Trousers, or even Pants; it's called this:

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